BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts psychiatrist and his wife both face charges in connection with a scheme to illegally import medications to treat alcohol and opioid dependence from China and falsify shipping documents to hide the contents of the imported packages, federal prosecutors said Friday.
Dr. Rahim Shafa, 62, and Nahid “Nina” Tormosi Shafa, 62, both of Lexington, were indicted on a charge of international money laundering conspiracy, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office in Boston.
Rahim Shafa was also indicted on charges of money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the United States, importing merchandise contrary to law, and receiving and delivering misbranded drugs with an intent to defraud, prosecutors said.
The Shafas have dedicated their careers to helping patients suffering from addiction and have saved lives, their attorney Megan Siddall said in an emailed statement.
“Dr. and Mrs. Shafa deny the allegations against them and look forward to their day in court," the statement said.
Shafa owned and operated Novel Psychopharmacology in Milford and Natick, and his wife was the office manager, authorities said.
The medications imported from January 2008 until January 2018 and offered for sale to patients were in a form not approved by the FDA, prosecutors said.
“Distributing illegally imported prescription drugs of unknown origin and ingredients instead of FDA-approved drugs places the U.S. public health at risk,” FDA Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey J. Ebersole said in a news release.
Authorities contend the couple also falsified shipping documents to make the packages containing the drugs look like lawful imports, in one case saying a package contained “plastic beads in plastic tubes."
“In order to make money, the defendants allegedly circumvented mandatory FDA drug inspections and took advantage of vulnerable patients who sought to escape addiction through legitimate treatment,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in the release.